Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Significance of 100,000 Words

Scott D. Parker

On Tuesday evening, as I finished my daily writing with 2,419 words for that day, I entered that figure in my spreadsheet. Once the formulas did their thing, I realized I crossed the 100,000-word mark in this renewed writing initiative.

For someone who has barely put together 10,000 words over a year, to see the numbers add up to 100, 919 on that was a great experience for me. For readers who have followed my progress since May, that’s still only 3 total stories: 2 shorter pieces and the 1 novel. As for the novel and it’s “new word” count (I had a few chapters already written when I picked it up again in June), Tuesday also marked the day I crossed 75,000 new words on the novel. And Sunday marked my highest one-day writing total: 6,108.

Why do I focus so much on numbers when I’m writing words? Because they feed on each other. They are daily reminders of Progress Being Made. The more I’ve focused on that spreadsheet each day, the more pride I have in my writing and in myself as a writer. I love seeing my May monthly total (13,017) stacked up to my June total (34,000) and my to-date July total (57,381). I love seeing, in numbers, what I am capable of doing after so many years of self doubt and self denial. It’s exhilarating and a little intoxicating.

In fact, I’ve been telling another writer friend of mine to keep a spreadsheet of his daily totals, too. He’s taking baby steps after a bunch of things got in his way, too. As much as I extol the virtues of keeping a spreadsheet, I got an assist by another source this week.Back in June, Nik Morton published Write a Western in 30 Days: With Plenty of Bullet-Points and I downloaded it and read through it. In there, he also tells prospective writers to keep a spreadsheet of daily writing. The only difference with his version is he does it by subtracting the daily word count from the total number of words for a typical western (45,000). Yes, you can get down to zero, but I love the addition version where you can go as high as you want. Like last Sunday. I knew I had written a lot, but I was very proud of myself for laying down 6,100 words. It’s like a last little gift at the end of the day.

So, after years--Years!--of not writing, I’ve managed to write more words in less time than ever before. I say that not to be immodest, but as encouragement to those of y’all out there who read this blog, see most of us getting published, and wished you could do it. I’m here to say that the writing part is doable.That's the significance of 100,000 words for me this week. A tangible, positive reminder that yes! I can do this. Here's how it's worked for me.

1. Decide to do it.  **The hardest part and the part that gave me the most trouble for YEARS!
2. Start.
3. Keep Track. 

Do any of you keep track of daily word counts?


James Reasoner said...

Since I started writing on a typewriter, for years I kept track of pages instead of words, and that's what I still do. But it's the same concept. Watching the numbers add up really is a great motivator.

Scott D. Parker said...

James - Early on, when I started concentrating on the novel, I would print out my daily output. Visually, it wasn't making a dent. Now, while I export a copy every day from Scrivener to my Mac, I wait and print off a week's worth of pages. *Then* I can see a difference when I drop forty to fifty page onto the stack.

Nik Morton said...

Don't know how I missed this, Scott! The main motivator is that spreadsheet - however you stack up the numbers/count. I'm glad you're being productive.